Thanksgiving Dinner Secrets

This weekend Canadians across the country will be giving thanks. For our fortune, family, friends and the delicious piece of pumpkin pie sitting right before our eyes, topped with whipped cream!

When settlers brought Thanksgiving traditions to North America it was to celebrate being grateful for events like the fall harvest. It was a time when abundance was rare. Today it is expected.

Of course we should celebrate the riches of our modern-day cornucopias. And while we're being thankful we can also be mindful.

Dr. Ali Zentner, specialist in Cardiac Risk Management and Obesity and medical expert on CBC's Village on a Diet, says you can keep things in check with three easy tips:

  1. If you are doing the entertaining, give the leftovers to your guests so that there is less temptations in the house. They leave happy and your kitchen remains temptation free.
  2. Don't let one day of indulgence derail your entire month. It is Thanksgiving after all and it's okay to enjoy responsibly and then get back on track the next day.
  3. Restrict your alcohol intake to no more than two drinks for the night. Alcohol is empty calories and it always clouds our judgment when it comes to healthy eating. In short, when you are drunk you can justify that extra piece of pie without a problem.

There's another aspect to Thanksgiving. That overstuffed, lazy feeling. Some blame it on Tryptophan. An amino acid that is credited with calmness and drowziness. Without getting into the science the real culprit is the size of the meal. Most people feel sleepy after eating and when we eat a lot we get lethargic. Dr. Glenn Berall is a pediatrician who specializes in childhood obesity and nutrition.

"Every holiday should include activity. Not just sitting around the table eating Turkey."

He reminds parents to:

  • Get the whole family outside. Even if it's just out the back door and into the backyard.
  • Have fun being active. Invent your own turkey games.

Live Right Now staff love this list of ways to get kids more active in just one minute. Many of the ideas work for Thanksgiving too!

And let's not ignore the allure of this holiday. When it comes right down to it, we just want to enjoy a good meal. Chef Jonathan Chovancek helped the people of Taylor rethink the way they ate on CBC's television series Village on a Diet. He has some fresh ideas for Thanksgiving too:

  • Take advantage of all the late summer vegetables which are still being harvested and cut out the butter.
  • Spice roasted cauliflower with cold pressed sunflower oil.
  • Use sweet peppers and swiss chard as the wraps for involtini recipes (instead of traditional meats and fish)
  • Use fresh cranberries to make a relish and cut out the sugar.
  • Use caramelized onions and garlic for sweetness.
  • Tomatoes are still amazing before the frost. Hollow them out and fill them to make a savory tart with sage, leeks and ChÚvre (goat cheese).
  • Use seeds, whole grains, wheat berries and oats in stuffings.
  • Serve the jus natural and unthickened. 
  • Buy local and non-medicated birds and hams. 
  • Apple and pear pies, wild elderberries, hazelnuts and unsweetened yoghurt for dessert. 

And his kicker ...

  • Infuse turkey with local organic hay found at farmers markets and local organic farms. Fill the cavity of the bird with onions, garlic, citrus wedges and hay! (The hay is for aroma only, not for eating.)

The Live Right Now team would love to hear and see pics of how you gave thanks on Facebook!

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